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Pare Down Your Writing

This week's Packing Heat is all about paring down your writing.

No Means No

How do you stop people from siphoning away your writing time? Say no -- with a stock response that you don't even have to think about first. That way you don't feel pressured to give your time to anybody and everybody simply because they ask, and you're not obligated to do things you don't enjoy.

Click Love

You can really help out authors you like by clicking the "tags" on their books at Amazon.com. It's fast, it's anonymous, and it's free. Click here to tag Camp Hell

Pare Down Your Writing

You might need to pare down your writing to improve the pacing, or to make it fit within a publisher's parameters. Here are three filters you can run your prose through to pare it down.

You don't need to show a key thing happening multiple times; show it once, and make it obvious in that scene that it's something that happens regularly

Look for your longest paragraphs, determine if they're rambly, extract the key concept, and brainstorm a few succinct, catchy ways to get that concept across, instead
Long example:
The world used to be covered with water; that’s what the old lady who lives in the basement at the warehouse told me. She said you could turn a knob and water would come rushing out, and that you could drink it without putting it through a filter first, and that it was free. As if! I guess she must’ve been drunk when she told me. But it’s still something I like to think about when I’m standing in these long lines for my water ration.

Short & snappy, same concept:
The guy with the scar where his left eye used to be shoved a jug of warm water into my hands. “Twenty-five dollars.”

“Twenty five? But it was twenty last week.”

“Twenty-five. Take it or leave it.”
“Psst. I’ll give you a blowjob for half your water.” The woman was clearly desperate.

OMG, I took a kickass hunk of dialog and killed it by overexplaining it. Do you do that anywhere in your own work? (Hint: it'll probably be sneakier than my example, and it won't be pulled out of the story and held up by itself for scrutiny.)

Permalink: packingheat.net/2009/04/01/packing-heat-047-pare-down-your-writing.aspx


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 2nd, 2009 01:17 am (UTC)
Over-explaining as TMI in a different context. *snorfle*

It is one thing to know that you have a problem with your writing and another to know where to even begin fixing it. I've always had a problem with run-on descriptions. Thank you for the tip!
Apr. 2nd, 2009 09:27 am (UTC)
Re: "Snicker"
I'm glad you found it helpful! I find that often when an editor or critique partner points out a problem in my prose, it's something that I do *all the time* and never realized it was problematic. That's a really yukky feeling!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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